The Security Council today extended the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights for another six months, and requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to ensure that the mission – which has faced numerous threats to its safety in recent months as well as troop withdrawals – has the required capacity and resources to fulfil its mandate.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council extended the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after their 1973 war, until 31 December 2013.
In recent months, the mission has faced a spate of security risks and operational challenges – including detention of UN personnel – as a result of the spill-over from the ongoing crisis in Syria, where Government forces and opposition groups have been engaged in a conflict spanning more than two years and which has already claimed more than 93,000 lives.
In addition, Austria – which contributes about one-third of UNDOF's troops – announced earlier this month that it is withdrawing its soldiers, reportedly citing a lack of freedom of movement and an unacceptable level of danger to its personnel.
The Council today strongly condemned the incidents threatening the safety and security of UN personnel in recent months, and called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to “cease military actions in the UNDOF area of operation.”
The resolution “underscores” that there should be no military activity of any kind in the area of separation, including military operations by the Syrian armed forces. In addition, it “underlines” that there should be no military activity of the armed opposition groups in the area of separation.
In his latest report on UNDOF, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that recent clashes in the Golan Heights area are threatening the decades-long ceasefire between Syria and Israel and putting civilians and UN personnel at risk.
“Given the evolving security situation in the UNDOF area of operation, it is necessary to consider further adjustments to the posture and operations of the mission,” Mr. Ban wrote. This includes enhancing the mission's self-defence capabilities and boosting its force strength by about 300 to some 1,250 troops.
The Council today endorsed the Secretary-General's recommendations to consider further adjustments to the “posture and operations” of the mission, as well as to implement additional mitigation measures to enhance the self-defence capabilities of UNDOF, including maximizing the force strength and improving its self-defence equipment.